Ohhh Lulu Betty Retro Hot Pants

OK, I know I’m over the age for wearing hot pants. But ever since I collected these clippings I wanted one. No matter what.

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Besides, if I go for a slightly retro bathing suit style, and wear it only in hot sunny and beachy places like the Maldives, surely it’d be taken as modest bathing suit rather than skimpy short shorts.

This of course means rushing to make one before my holidays. Otherwise I might never get to wear it. Especially living in dreary London.

The Pattern

Again, I had a couple of patterns I thought might work. Both are actually billed as lingerie patterns.

I made ‘muslin’ of both and settled on Ohhh Lulu…Betty Panties this time. I’ll probably make the Burda Style one in the future as well. To wear around the house for my own pleasure if no where else. (Yeah, like many men, the Other Half doesn’t really get these granny pants. He calls my Betty Hot Pants “diaper” for chrissake! Rude boy.)

Style Shots & Mug Shots

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(Sorry, couldn’t resist showing off the lovely lagoon just outside our water villa in the Maldives. There’s not much fish on this side of the resort. But on the plus side the sand is soft to walk on without the prickly fresh corals. At low tide, you can walk across the lagoon to the sandbank. I don’t swim, so that was perfect!)

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Fabric & Notions Used

Off-white Knit Double Cloth from B&J Fabrics in NYC bought a few years ago. It’s a med-heavy weight stable knit that’s satiny on one side and a nice spongy double knit on the other. The two fabrics are held together with what looks like double-sided adhesive film. Unfortunately the satiny side is marred in places. So I went for the double knit side.

MaxiLock serger thread from Wawak (formerly ATS). 3/8” clear elastic for the leg holes. Decorative elastic (like the type found on thigh high stockings) from Macculloch & Wallis for the waist facing. Invisible zipper.

Size Used

XS per hip measurement chart.

Changes Made

  • Sway-back adjustment – shortened CB by 3/8”. You may have noticed I haven’t been consistent with my adjustments. My excuse is that I still haven’t quite worked out the correct back fitting yet. Anyway, this 3/8” was nowhere enough. Hence the horizontal folds at the waist in the photos.
  • Shortened the crotch length as the muslin was a bit baggy there.
  • Scooped out a bit more from the front leg curve to remove bagginess in the crotch.
  • Made the back leg curve more shallow to cover a bit more of my bum.
  • Added straight side seams to accommodate an invisible zipper. My fabric doesn’t stretch enough to pull over my hip while still being snug enough at the waist. It would be a bit weird if this was a panties or a proper retro swimwear. But as it’s hot pants in heavier fabric, I don’t think it’s weird to have the zipper.

Verdict on the Instruction

The instruction is clear. But again I didn’t really follow it faithfully as I’m making this as shorts rather than panties.

I inserted the zipper first. Then sew up the side seams, followed by the side-front and side-back seams. Because my fabric is bulky but still slightly translucent – like most whitish fabrics – I had to spread the seam allowances apart, top-stitch along both sides, and trim close to the top-stitching. For the leg hems I stitched the clear elastics to the wrong side so that when I turn the hem in and top-stitch, they’d be hidden. For the waist I stitched the decorative elastic to the right side, turn in, top-stitch, then tack the lower edge of the wide elastic to all vertical seams. Again, I turned to my trusted walking feet and stretch stitch for almost all of the sewing.

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Would I sew it again

Hmmm…maybe one more Hot Pants in black. Then as granny pants as the designers intended. I’m feeling old enough to retire those skimpy panties that give you the wedgie. Ouch.

Byzantine dreams

OMG, I can’t believe I’ve just finished not 1, but 2 sewing projects! Granted, both left a bit to be desired in the fitting department. But still, it’s unheard of. Almost.

London weather being dull as ever, no evidence of my minor achievements just yet. Instead you’ll have to make do with part 2 of my Gigli coat quest. Nope, you haven’t heard the end of it yet! :o)

While Gigli attempt no. 1 was hibernating, I stumbled across Folkwear 503 Poiret Cocoon Coat pattern. It’s vaguely Gigliesque. So I thought I’d try a store-bought pattern for a change as my attempts at copying designer garbs have been a bit of the luck of the draw.

The example on the pattern envelope is a bit ugly to be honest. But I thought with a classier fabric it might look glam enough. So I plucked for a gorgeous brown cut velvet with silver-gray satiny lining.

And here’s the result…

Well, the almost-finished result anyway. You see, the trouble is once it’s mostly made up I lost heart. It felt more like a dressing gown for Ladies who Lunch than a Byzantine Princess Coat. So I never put the finishing touch on it. Instead it’s been languishing for years in the TBA pile.

A real shame as I  even added some nicely finished welt pockets with almost perfectly matched pattern. And extra double-welt pockets in the lining as well!

(Why anyone would want to laden such delicate coat with dead weight is beyond me now, but I vaguely recall being obsessed about lack of pocket practicalities in women’s clothing back then.)

Here’s the not so graceful back view. The drapes just look wrong so low down. It reminds me of an oversized diaper: Squarish. Bottom heavy. Not very flattering no matter what shape you are.

Here’s a Poiret illustration for comparison.

And it gets weirder. Here’s the batwing. I feel like a flying squirrel. Or is it the sleeve equivalent of a Hammer pants? ;-)

If I were to do it again, I’d go for something a bit more like this:

But given my lack of success with the Gigli coat attempts, I doubt I’ll try this style of coat again. Especially with the advance of middle age spread where my already small frame subcomb to gravity and grow sideways!

Instead I think I’ll look to my old favorite Comme des Garçons for inspiration on refashioning this lovely cut velvet coat.

Comme des Garçons Fall 1996

Probably not another coat though.

Maybe a top like this sketch I drew of a lady in a CdG top at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I love the contrast between the austere muslin and the sumptuous cut velvet.

So maybe I’m not cut out to be a Byzantine Princess. But a Byzantine Peasant wouldn’t be too much to ask for innit?